Romance scams are one of the most common crimes of all time. It has become rampant in recent years as the number of internet users keeps growing, and criminals keep discovering new ways of scamming people online. Romance scams happen when someone uses a fake identity, most often a prominent identity, to gain their victim’s trust. Read below as we delve into one of the most artistic stories, the sea captain romance scam. Romance scams are not a new phenomenon as more people keep running after love and affection. Often, the scammer has hidden agendas, so they go for hidden identities that you cannot trace back to them. The sea captain romance scam story is just a few of the lengths that scammers are willing to go to dupe unknowing women. Defining Romance Scams Rege (2009) noted that romance scams happen when someone with criminal intent uses a fake online identity to dupe unsuspecting persons. Most of the people who have been victims of romance scams are women because they are emotionally vulnerable compared to men. The criminals pose as lavish men; business tycoons, doctors, sea captains, and real estate agents to get the attention they desire. Therefore, when a woman is scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and comes across the handsome face of a business tycoon, they will be thrilled, not knowing that they are about to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster of their life. Duffield & Grabosky (2001) noted that the main aim of the scammer is to gain the other person’s trust and affection so that duping them will be easy. The scammers often do fake marriage proposals to show that they are serious about the relationship. Unfortunately, the marriage will never happen. The Sea Captain Romance Scam The sea captain romance scam story is just a drop in the ocean regarding online romance scams. When the story came out, it spread like wildfire as news outlets and online blogs reported it for people worldwide to learn of the risks of engaging in online relationships. The Beginning Of The Scam When Fay, not her real name, opened an Instagram account, she was not on the road to finding her prince charming. She had family and friends on the popular app, and she felt it would be helpful if she kept tabs on the people dear to her. Fay also had a small business that she wanted to advertise on the platform to woo potential clients. When she was up and about on her Instagram page, a man named Thomas messaged her, and a conversation sparked between them. Thomas identified himself as a ship captain who traveled between Denmark and the United States. Unbeknownst to Fay, Thomas did not exist, and this was just but the beginning of a relationship that would cost her more than just money. In an interview with The Feed, Fay said they would ask each other questions to understand each other better. The questions included hair color, eye color, and favorite food, which Fay, unlike Thomas, answered truthfully. When things got a little heated, they moved to WhatsApp, a reliable messaging app used by billions of people across the globe, and before long, conversing with Thomas became part of Fay’s routine. Getting To Know Each Other Fay had the blueprint of Thomas’ life and Thomas hers. Fay was a fan of astronomy; the science behind astronomy intrigued her, and she also attended singing classes. Thomas said that he was a widow and the nature of his job forced him to be away from his daughter, who he had to enroll in a boarding school in the United States, where he often docked at. Fay also went ahead to say that for the first time in a while, she felt heard, unlike in her marriage, where she felt unheard and often unseen. Therefore, her small friendship with Thomas offered her a door to utopia. The Scam As mentioned earlier, Thomas said he had a daughter called Sonia, who was in a boarding school in the United States. One time, the principal of Sonia’s school called Fay to tell her about Sonia and the school expenses she needed to pay because Thomas was abroad. Fay then spent $600 on Sonia’s birthday cake and pocket money for an approaching school trip. In one interview, she said that she was willing to leave all she had behind to go and be with Thomas. Fay had even started to think about the possibility of a life with her dream man, and often, she would look into visas and visa lawyers that Thomas sent her. As the relationship faired on, Thomas sent Fay a jewelry gift through a fake courier service that demanded $4000 in cash for the gift to be released, which an unsuspecting Fay paid. In the months that followed, Fay is believed to have lost more than $10,000, which she sent to Thomas. Fay lost so much, including her savings, and was left broke with nothing to her name. The Aftermath It takes time for scamming victims to come to terms with what criminals have subjected them to. Karmen (2015) stated that most victims struggle with emotional and mental turmoil, with some even choosing to end their lives. After losing close to everything she had, Fay lost trust in everyone around her, and for a long time, she even battled depression. She said that Thomas was convincing and that she never doubted that it was for a good course when he asked for money. Fay was left devastated because she had fallen for Thomas, not knowing he was non-existent. Fay then urged people to be vigilant with any online interaction they subject themselves to because scammers are everywhere, and they are waiting to scam unsuspecting people. The Bottom Line Unlike other scamming methods, Romance scams are viewed as the worst form of scams because they thrive on the vulnerability of their victims. The people who carry out romance scams pose as prominent people or people who are well off financially to lure their victims easily. The criminal is never interested in any romance with the victim, all they need is money, and after they get it, they ghost their victims. The sea captain romance scam is one of the many romance scam stories that have hit the headlines to warn people about the dangers of engaging in online relationships with people they do not know. References Duffield, G. M., & Grabosky, P. N. (2001). The psychology of fraud (Vol. 199). Canberra: Australian Institute of criminology. Karmen, A. (2015). Crime victims: An introduction to victimology. Cengage Learning. Rege, A. (2009). What’s Love Got to Do with It? Exploring Online Dating Scams and Identity Fraud. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 3(2).